Rene Meulensteen was delighted with his side’s application after Fulham recorded their first victory under their new boss in this afternoon’s crucial clash with Aston Villa.

A predatory strike from the recalled Steve Sidwell and a penalty from Dimitar Berbatov proved enough to give Fulham a priceless victory over Villa and saw Fulham build on the promising performance in the midweek defeat by Tottenham at Craven Cottage. Meulensteen, who took over from Martin Jol last Sunday, felt Fulham married both passion and purpose to deliver an impressive display.

I think we set ourselves a marker last Wednesday and we wanted to build from that – that’s why there weren’t a lot of changes and the players lived up to that expectation and deserved the three points.¬†The way you start every game is key, I think it is very hard if you don’t really start sharp it is very hard to get back into the game.

I think it typifies really and sums up both performances,” he added. “It is always hard when teams go through tough patches, you have to dig deep which they did and the goal he (Sidwell) scored was just sheer determination and a fantastic finish.

Meulensteen lauded Dimitar Berbatov’s superb performance – his second such display since reports linking the Bulgarian striker with a January move away from the Cottage surfaced in the press.

It is not a surprise to me, that is what he [Berbatov] can do. When you have got players of the calibre of Dimitar it is most important that other players react to him and that is what Alex [Kacaniklic] did really, really well.